Small towns in Virginia are what make this state so charming. Full of history, culture, and many hidden treasures, Abingdon is no exception. Nestled in the Highlands Region, the town of about 7,000 residents offers an escape from bigger cities with its mountain town mentality. Here are some reasons you should visit the beautiful town of Abingdon, a Virginia Historic Landmark.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. It all began with a noble frontiersman
The great American pioneer Daniel Boone discovered Abingdon in the 1770s. He named the land Wolf Hills because his dogs were attacked by a wolf pack. The town was later renamed to Abingdon, the alleged name of Martha Washington's family home in Oxford.
2. The historic district is lovely
There's no better way to learn about this unique town's local history than by meandering through the tree-lined roads and reading the historical markers scattered about. You'll also enjoy stopping into any number of antique shops or cafes to chat with the friendly locals.
3. You can admire the local art
The Arts Depot is a reconstructed freight train station that was built in the 1800s. The building now houses beautiful galleries, classrooms and studios. It's run by the Depot Artist Association, a nonprofit group which is dedicated to supporting the area's local artists.
The William King Museum of Art is another historic building-turned-museum. Built in 1913, this site used to be a schoolhouse. The gallery houses regional and local work. In fact, this is Virginia's only accredited national gallery west of Roanoke. Outside you'll find a beautiful outdoor sculpture garden.
4. The impressive entertainment
In 1946, Barter Theatre was named the Virginia State Theatre. It's actually the longest-standing Equity theater in the entire country. Its doors opened in the 1930s during the Great Depression. The theatre gained the name Barter because guests were allowed to pay with food items and livestock if they were short on cash. In other words, they could barter for their ticket. And when the theater couldn't afford to pay playwrights such as Tennessee Williams their proper royalties, they would use Virginia hams.
The theatre is currently putting on a production of "Classic Nashville Roadshow." It's a tribute to country classics that you won't want to miss if you pass through town soon.
5. Appreciation for the great outdoors
The Virginia Creeper Trail is one of Abingdon's most prized sites. This 35-mile multi-use trail winds its way though gorgeous National Forest and countryside from Abingdon to Whitetop and Damascus, right near the North Carolina state line. Even the trail has significant history. During the late 1800s this route was initially a Virginia-Carolina railway. The train retired in 1957 and within 20 years, was being prepped for recreational use. The Virginia Creeper Trail also intersects with the Appalachian Trail, making it a prime spot for outdoor enthusiasts.
6. There's a great selection of fine local dining
Abingdon has a wonderful selection of restaurants, including Jack's 128 Pecan. This New American restaurant features some delicious options on their menu, such as this dish of steak marinated with cilantro/lime and topped with a pineapple mango salsa. There's also a deck to enjoy the small-town surroundings as you dine.
And if you're looking for dessert, you won't find anything much sweeter than Babycakes Cupcakery. This gourmet bakery is also a great spot for a nice cup of coffee.
7. The accommodations are beautiful and historic
This gorgeous 63-room hotel is filled with both history and character. Prices to stay here are on the higher end, but even visiting for a day or treating yourself to one of the spa treatments will be an unforgettable experience. The history of this building dates back to the nineteenth century. It was originally a retirement home for Robert Preston, a successful General of the War of 1812. The residence was purchased to be used for a women's college which was named after the Nation's First Lady, Martha Washington. The college remained intact throughout the Civil War and the beginnings of the Depression, but ultimately closed in 1932. When it opened as a hotel, it housed many famous guests, including Lady Bird Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Elizabeth Taylor, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
The Summerfield Inn Bed & Breakfast is anther noteworthy spot to stay during your visit to Abingdon. This charming bed & breakfast was built in 1921 and is southern hospitality at its finest. Southern Living Magazine has even featured this lodging. Sometimes there's just nothing better than an old-fashioned wrap around porch and rocking chairs.
8. You'll love the local vineyard
This breathtaking 53-acres of land can be found along the South Holston River. Vineyard tours are available between 12:00 - 4:30 from March 15th - December 15th. The wine here is also featured at the Abingdon Famers Market, on Saturdays and Tuesdays during the season.
9. Music is alive and well in Abingdon
Thanks to the Abingdon Music Experience, incredible live acts from near and far are celebrated in the heart of downtown. This seems fitting, as Abingdon is part of the historic Crooked Road Trail, a heritage trail that celebrates the origins of country music in southwestern Virginia. Some amazing events that take place throughout the year include January Jams, Thursday Jams, Abingdon Crooked Road Music Fest, and Main Street Blues Fest.
Please share with us some of your favorite parts about the lovely town of Abingdon. We’d love to hear from you! If you haven’t visited, what are you most excited to see?